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Much-anticipated federal funding from the American Rescue Plan arrived in the City of Citrus Heights’ coffers this past week, adding $7.8 million to the city’s budget and offering hope that recent cuts to police and other services can be restored.
Whether that money can go toward boosting the police budget or repaving roads is unclear, however, despite 151 pages of guidelines being released by the U.S. Treasury Department on May 10.
City spokeswoman Nichole Baxter told The Sentinel in an email Friday that the city is in contact with Congressman Ami Bera’s office and the Treasury Department, seeking further clarification on how funds can be used in relation to police and other services. She provided a similar response when asked whether street repaving could potentially receive funding, in light of COVID-19’s impact on transportation and reduced gas tax revenues.
“In this early stage, there are still a lot of questions yet to be answered and complicated calculations to run, with governments nationwide interpreting the 151 page interim final rule guidelines in different ways,” she said.
Councilman Bret Daniels was more optimistic in comments made during the council’s May 13 meeting, saying the funding guidelines “look very positive” for the city. “Hopefully we will see some quick resolutions to some of our mainly public safety concerns,” he said.
An 8-page fact sheet released by the Treasury Department says a total of $45.6 billion from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has been allocated to metropolitan cities, listing five broad guidelines for how funding can be used:
- Support public health expenditures, by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff;
- Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector.
- Replace lost public sector revenue, using the funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic.
- Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering up to $13 per hour in additional pay (including retroactive pay) to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.
Another installment of relief funds is expected to arrive within 12 months, bring the city’s total allocation from the American Rescue Plan to close to $16 million.
The council is expected to vote on a revised budget this summer which takes into account the new federal funding. The council’s prior budget passed by a 3-2 last month did not account for relief funds, as a majority of the council opted to wait until the funding and clear guidelines were issued.
Baxter said the city is planning “a robust community engagement effort to ensure residents are involved in every step of the way” of allocating the new funds.
“The first step in that process is getting clear direction so we can educate our community on specific recovery spending guidelines/amounts, to inform their engagement and feedback,” she said.
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